Andhra Pradesh Ancient Buddhist panels in Prakasam district left in ruins

They were found beneath the foundation of a temple at Chandavaram

First century Buddhist panels were found in utter neglect beneath the foundation of a medieval temple at Chandavaram village, near Kurichedu, in Prakasam district even as the world celebrated the ‘Heritage week’.

Basing on an information provided by a local historian Jyoti Chandramouli, Buddhist Archaeologist and CEO of Cultural Centre of Vijayawada and Amaravathi (CCVA) Sivanagireddy inspected the 2000-year-old antique panels in the remote village.

Four huge panels depicting the Buddhist symbols of vajrasana (the seat on which Siddhartha meditated), Bodhi tree(under which Siddhartha got enlightenment), Dharmachakra(Buddha setting the wheel of Dharma into motion) and a stupa (symbolic representation of Buddha attaining Mahaparinirvana) were used as the foundation course for the walls of Mahabaleswara temple in the village.
Amaravathi School of Art

Dr. Reddy said that these panels, measuring 6 ft in height, 2.5 ft in width and 8 inches in thickness, were encased in the stupa during the Satavahana times. He said the panels represent the early phase of world famous Amaravathi School of Art.

“It is high time the panels are removed by inserting iron girders, using latest technology, without causing damage to the temple structure. The cavity could be filled with concrete wall for safety purpose,” he suggested.

Dr. Reddy, along with Golla Narayanarao, president, Andhra Arts Academy and others sensitised the local people on the archaeological significance and historical importance of the Buddhist panels.

Pakistani PM positive about exhibiting ‘Fasting Buddha’ statue in Korea: Jogye order official

ISLAMABAD, Nov. 20 (Yonhap) — Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan reacted positively to the query from a South Korean Buddhist leader to display the “Fasting Buddha” statue, a key Gandhara art piece, in South Korea, an official of the Jogye Order said Wednesday.

Ven. Wonhaeng, the 36th President of Jogye Order, South Korea’s largest Buddhist sect, paid a courtesy call on the prime minster during his trip to Pakistan, according to the official.

The statue is currently at Lahore Museum in Pakistan.

“Fasting Buddha” statue at Lahore Museum in Pakistan (Yonhap)

Buddha relics from Sri Lanka to be enshrined at Bowonniwet Vihara temple

BANGKOK – The government would like to invite Buddhists in Thailand to pay their respects to the hair relics of the Lord Buddha at Bowonniwet Vihara temple in Bangkok from December 10, 2019, to January 10 next year.

The Head of the Buddha Relics Invitation Project, Adisak Panupong, and the President of the Do D Foundation, Danai Chanchaochai, announced that the Lord Buddha’s relics from Manelwatta temple in Sri Lanka will be exhibited at Bowonniwet Vihara temple to celebrate His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua’s coronation as well as the 266th anniversary of the establishment of Siam Nikaya in Sri Lanka. The religious event will also mark over 700 years of relations between Thai and Sri Lankan Buddhists.

The relics will be open for the public to pay their respects for a total of 32 days, between December 10 and January 10 next year. People will be able to pay their respects in rounds each day. The first round will be at 6:30 a.m., the second at 10:30 a.m. and the third at 5 p.m. Sermons and teachings will also take place on Saturdays and religious holidays throughout the period. Those wishing to pay respects are asked to dress appropriately in all white.

Exhibition on ancient Buddha statues opens in HCM City


An exhibition featuring ancient Buddha statues which date back thousands of years has opened to the public at the Ho Chi Minh City Museum of Fine Arts.

The exhibition features hundreds of Buddha statues made from various materials and dating back throughout history. Buddhism entered Vietnam about two thousand years ago. It can be said that Buddhism has contributed considerably to the rich and unique cultural heritage of Vietnam.

The collection by Ngo Muoi Thuong has many ancient Buddha statues dating back to feudal dynasties, converging the quintessence of sculpture.

The exhibition helps visitors understand more about the aesthetic values as well as Buddhist cultural influence in Vietnam.

The exhibition will run through November 21./.

Buddha statue, imported from Thailand, unveiled at Ghantasala village

The four-foot tall structure was imported from Thailand

Former Deputy Speaker Mandali Buddha Prasad and Buddhist monk Dhante Dhamma Dhaja on Tuesday unveiled a golden statue of Dhyana Buddha on the campus of the Archaeological Survey of India’s museum at Ghantasala village in Krishna district.

The ASI Museum campus includes a Buddhist stupa, which is 30 km from Machilipatnam.

“The Dhyana Buddha statue, four feet in height, is gold-coloured and has been imported from Thailand to be installed at the Ghantasala Buddhist stupa, one of the sacred places for Buddhists in the State. We preferred the Thailand sculpture style for the Buddha statue due to its unique craft,” Mr. Dhante Dhamma told The Hindu. The statue has been unveiled after performing a ritual by offering lotus flowers. The Ghantasala villagers conserve the lotus flowers in the village pond. In Buddhism, the lotus is regarded as sacred, and symbolises purity of mind and body. Villagers joined the ritual and offered prayers under the aegis of Mr. Dhante Dhamma.

On the status of the ongoing project of developing a Buddhist vihar on the outskirts of Ghantasala village, Mr. Dhante Dhamma said that the construction of the 112-feet height of Buddha statue and the monastery was under progress. Mr. Buddha Prasad, along with village elders who are followers of Buddhism proponent Gorripati Ramakrishna discussed ways to promote the Buddhist site as a tourist attraction in Krishna district.

29-Meter-Tall Shakyamuni Buddha Sculpture Blown up in Jilin

Outdoor religious statues continue to be destryed across China, local officials in charge threated to be dismissed if they disobey the central government orders.

by Wang Anyang

In mid-June, a 29-meter-tall carving of Shakyamuni Buddha on a mountain in Fengman district of Jilin city in the northeastern province of Jilin was destroyed with explosives because local authorities claimed that it was “too tall.” The demolition was carried out with government officials present on site.

According to informed sources, it took eleven years to carve the Buddha, and it was in the process of being polished and gilded when it was blown up. The work, funded by an individual, cost about 3 million RMB (about $ 420,000).

The carved statue of Shakyamuni before and after it was blown up
The unfinished carving of Shakyamuni was blown up in mid-June.

Ahead of the demolition, officials proclaimed that all religious statues are being dismantled across the country, and no one can stop the process. They threatened to detain the funder of the carving if he resisted the demolition. A government insider revealed to Bitter Winter that had the statue not been destroyed, all local officials in charge were to be removed from their posts.

Over in the central province of Henan, government officials ordered to demolish a 10-meter-tall statue of Shakyamuni Buddha outside Longxing Temple, located in a village of Mengjin county under the jurisdiction of Luoyang city. According to informed sources, local government executives were threatened by their higher-ups to leave office should they fail to demolish the statue within three days.

The demolition work took two days to complete, government-hired workers toiling non-stop on July 17 and 18. A village official said that all outdoor religious statues are being destroyed on the central government’s orders. “No one in China has greater power than Xi Jinping. Who dares resist him?” the official added.

According to some villagers, to protect the statue from demolition, the temple’s congregation covered it with sunshade nets, but this didn’t help to save it.

The Buddha statue in Longxing Temple was covered and later demolished
The Buddha statue in Longxing Temple was first covered and later demolished.

“There is nowhere to seek justice. It’s no different from the Cultural Revolution – all things related to Buddha are being torn down and destroyed,” a believer said helplessly. “The CCP fears that people will start worshiping Buddha and will not believe in the CCP anymore. If all people become religious, won’t it mean that the CCP is done for? That’s why these urgent orders to destroy all these icons have been given.”

Not only Buddhist statues are demolished; even the word “Buddha” in public is not allowed to exist. In spring this year, officials ordered to remove a stele with the Chinese word for “Buddha” outside a Buddhist temple in Lushuihe town of Fusong county, administered by Jilin’s Baishan city, claiming that “government regulations forbid open-air religious signs.” The stele that had been displayed for over ten years was left lying on the ground.

Excavated ancient Buddha statue being restored

The torso and head of a Buddha statue that was excavated by Apsara Authority’s archaeologists in the Tup Khang Lech temple area in Angkor Thom, Siem Reap are being kept in Nara Institute for restoration.

Nara Institute archaeologist Sok Keo Sovannara, who was completing repairs at the temple’s site, said on Tuesday that parts of the statue were discovered on October 24 and sent to the institute the same day.

“The ancient torso and head were discovered separately. They were estimated to have been made during the central era [1431-1863]. The cross-legged body was buried over one metre into the ground, whereas the head was found about three metres from the body,” he said.

Tup is a small temple area in Angkor Thom that is not of much interest to visitors because of its location in the forest, but is still significant for researchers.

It is the last temple built from sandstone in the 9th century as a dedication to Brahmanism. It was the idea of an uncle of King Yasovarman I. Not many people know of the temple,” Keo Sovannara said.

There are two temples in the heritage site, namely Tup Khang Lech (in the West) and Tup Khang Keut (in the East).

Apsara Authority spokesman Long Kosal said the statue was taken to Nara Institute for cleaning and repairs, and to be registered for research and study.

“The restoration works of the temple are near completion. However, [we] need to conduct more studies on certain parts of the structures and foundations. That is why we need to excavate, repair and conduct research,” he said.

Scroll depicting early life of Buddha goes on display for first time

Burmese manuscript is among 120 items at British Library exhibition exploring Buddhism

A vibrantly coloured 19th-century Burmese illustrated manuscript has gone on public display for the first time as part of a major exhibition exploring Buddhism.

The British Library is putting more than 120 items on display for a show, opening to the public on Friday, which spans 20 countries over 2,000 years.

They include silk scrolls of sutras, painted wall hangings and delicate scriptures written on tree bark, gold plates and palm leaves.

The majority of items are from the library’s abundant collection of Buddhist material. This includes the Burmese scroll, which is 7.6 metres long and shows scenes from the early life of the Buddha Amitabha.

Jana Igunma, the lead curator, said: “We have so many absolutely breathtaking Buddhist manuscripts in our collection and we change them frequently in our Treasures gallery.

“But there is just not enough space. It would take us hundreds of years to display everything that is beautiful.”
Igunma hopes the show will encourage people to find out more about Buddhism. “It is something which can sound very distant and people usually have in mind a Buddha figure sitting in meditation, but there is much more to it,” she said.

“We want to show the diversity of all the different traditions and the different cultural influences and different aspects of Buddhist practice.”

Other objects include a copy of the Lotus Sutra in a lavishly decorated scroll, written in gold and silver ink, and a Chinese illustrated manuscript of the Guanyin Sutra, which dates from the 9th-10th centuries and has a rare early depiction of a woman giving birth.

The show also shines a light on mindfulness, with an early morning meditation session in the library for visitors who want to fully prepare themselves for the exhibition.

“Meditation has become mainstream,” Igunma said. “You don’t have to be Buddhist or religious, these are practices that are open to everyone.”

Buddhism is at the British Library from 25 October to 23 February

How to Invoke the Medicine Buddha

by David Michie|

David Michie teaches us a healing meditation to purify karma and cultivate well-being.

It is no coincidence that the words “medication” and “meditation” are only one letter different. They both come from the same Latin root word, medeor, meaning “to heal or to make whole.”

In the West, our medical focus is on the external—on the curing of physical symptoms—while Eastern traditions focus more on the internal, that is, addressing the mental causes of illness. It is our good fortune to be living at a time when we can access the best of both worlds.

Medicine Buddha meditation is a healing practice treasured by many in the Mahayana Buddhist tradition. We can practice it for ourselves, or for someone we care about who is ill. The oldest Medicine Buddha sutra we know about dates from the seventh century. In that sutra, we are told the story of a bodhisattva, Medicine Buddha, who made twelve vows about how he would help living beings after attaining enlightenment. The holistic healing of mind and body was an important focus of his vows: he promised to help eradicate pain, disease, and disabilities of all kinds, as well as promote good health and optimal flourishing.

When we practice Medicine Buddha meditation, we do not do so to replace mainstream medical treatment, but to complement it. The practice purifies and removes the underlying, karmic causes of disease and cultivates the causes for holistic well-being. Such may be the power of our practice that we experience significant improvements in the symptoms, too. But we need to be clear about what we are doing.

Medicine Buddha is as much about mind as it is body. Empirical evidence shows that when we meditate, it triggers a self-repair mechanism in our own bodies. We stop producing cortisol and adrenalin, and instead enhance the production of immune-boosting endorphins and seratonin, arming our body against invasive bacteria, viruses, and other imbalances. These changes also promote positive mental states.

An element of confidence in the practice is helpful. The placebo effect is said to account for more than a third of all healing. Medicine Buddha meditation has been practiced for thousands of years. If we have confidence that it can work for us, then we’re off to a very good start.

Resonance may also account for the powerful impact of Medicine Buddha practice. On one level, we may be sitting alone in a room meditating, but in a different way we are resonating with the many hundreds of thousands of people who have done exactly the same thing before us. We’re benefiting from their experience and contributing to the experience of those who follow.

When doing this practice, it’s important to retain an awareness that you are not an inherently existent person asking an inherently existent buddha to get rid of an inherently existent illness. This would be little different from a theistic or shamanistic approach. It is precisely because nothing has any true, separate, or independent existence—including illness—that practices like this have power.

We invoke Medicine Buddha through the use of specific imagery and sound, reaching out to the consciousness of those numberless beings who have already attained enlightenment and who have chosen to manifest Medicine Buddha’s qualities.

The minds of buddhas are understood to be all-seeing and all-knowing. Buddhas react to their mantra in the same way we react when we hear our name mentioned, so we pretty much have a buddha on speed dial when we use their mantra. To borrow a metaphor from the late Tibetan teacher Gelek Rinpoche, when we recite a buddha’s mantra we are providing a hoop through which they can hook us into their energetic influence.

Note that Medicine Buddha is a Kriya tantra practice. As such, it is helpful that you first have some familiarity with the sutra tradition, as well as receive proper initiations and teachings from a properly qualified teacher, if you wish to fully embody the precious Medicine Buddha lineage.

Ancient ‘Lost City’ of Khmer Empire Rediscovered Hidden Under The Cambodian Jungle

PETER DOCKRILL

Scientists have rediscovered an ancient city of the Khmer Empire, hidden for centuries by the lush jungle topography of modern-day Cambodia.

Mahendraparvata, sometimes dubbed the ‘lost city of Cambodia’, was an early capital city of the Khmer Empire, a Hindu-Buddhist regime of Southeast Asia that lasted from the 9th to 15th centuries of the common era.

Archaeologists and historians have known about the existence of Mahendraparvata for decades, but surviving archaeological evidence of this Angkorian city has proven scant, until now.

In a new paper – collecting the results of an ambitious, years-long research campaign – an international team has published what they say is the most definitive identification of early Angkor-period capital, thanks to airborne laser scanning (Lidar).

012 mahendraparvata 2The grid-like axes of the urban network. (Chevance et al., Antiquity, 2019)

In conjunction with a ground-based survey, the research team mapped an extended urban network that they say dates from the 9th century, located in the Phnom Kulen plateau, to the north-east of the city of Angkor (the predominant capital city of the Khmer Empire, as recorded by history).

“The mountainous region of Phnom Kulen has, to date, received strikingly little attention,” the researchers, led by first author and archaeologist Jean-Baptiste Chevance from the Archaeology and Development Foundation in the UK, explain in their paper.

“It is almost entirely missing from archaeological maps, except as a scatter of points denoting the remains of some brick temples.”

Screen Shot 2019 10 16 at 5.24.39 pmAerial view of Mahendraparvata. (Archaeology Development Foundation)

In research efforts that commenced in 2012 and lasted until 2017, the team commenced a series of Lidar survey flights above the region, building up an extensive map of thousands of newly detected archaeological features that had previously escaped notice on the ground – due to centuries of encroachment by nature.

“The Ancient Khmer modified the landscape, shaping features on a very large scale – ponds, reservoirs, canals, roads, temples, rice fields, et cetera,” Chevance told Newsweek.

“However, the dense forest often covering the areas of interest is a main constraint to investigating them.”

012 mahendraparvata 2A newly documented temple site. (Cambodian Archaeological Lidar Initiative)

Thanks to the aerial survey, though, the team was able to see past the layers of vegetation and dirt hiding Mahendraparvata from view, uncovering a complex urban network of city features designed in a grid-like pattern of linear axes, and spanning up to 50 square kilometres in total.

“Numerous other elements of the anthropogenic landscape connect to this broader network, suggesting the elaboration of an overall urban plan,” the researchers explain.

“Dams, reservoir walls and the enclosure walls of temples, neighbourhoods and even the royal palace abut or coincide with the embanked linear features.”

Despite the elaborate design and sophistication of the lost city’s engineered footprint, it did not survive long.

In the years to come, the Khmer Empire moved its centre of operations to the new capital, Angkor, perhaps due to better conditions for growing food in a less mountainous and challenging environment.

“The city may not have lasted for centuries, or perhaps even decades,” one of the team, Damian Evans from the French School of the Far East, told New Scientist.

“But the cultural and religious significance of the place has lasted right up until the present day.”

The findings are reported in Antiquity.